Elite Rivals

Every FBS school strives for excellence in both academics and football. And most of them will be successful to a degree with their academic or football programs. Few however, will attain an elite status in either, which makes sense because being elite, after all, implies that most other schools aren't. So it's interesting to take a look at the elite academic schools who play FBS football, as well as the elite football programs:

Elite Academic FBS Schools*
North Carolina
Notre Dame

Elite Football Programs (Winningest of all time)
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Penn State

Only two schools appear on both lists, namely Michigan and Notre Dame. These two schools are the first and third winningest programs of all time, respectively, and are arguably the two most storied programs in the country. And the fanbases of both teams are rightfully famous for their arrogance. Of course, this arrogance is well deserved, because both schools are awesome at everything.

Of our three true rivals (apologies to Illinois...not really), Ohio State, Michigan State, and Notre Dame, Notre Dame is the only team that we truly respect. We dismiss Ohio State for their mediocre academics and we dismiss Michigan State for their general worthlessness, but we can't dismiss Notre Dame, because they, like us, excel athletically and academically. They, like us, look down at the rest of the NCAA because they, like us, know themselves to be superior to it. But when we play each other, we can't really look down at each other. And that is the source of our dislike for each other.

Of course, if you're a Michigan fan, you can also dislike Notre Dame for using their status as an Independent to claim superiority, for having Touchdown Jesus, the most ridiculously arrogant thing in college football (so arrogant that we even find it tiresome), and for refusing to acknowledge that we were the true 1947 National Champions. And if you're a Notre Dame fan, you can dislike Michigan for having more success against you than any other team in the country (Michigan leads the series 21-15-1; the only other school who has played Notre Dame a significant number of times and holds a winning record in the series is Nebraska, who is 8-7-1. Penn State is even with Notre Dame at 9-9-1.).

*These schools are not being ranked against each other. Also, my choices were somewhat subjective. When choosing the top academic schools, I did look at rankings by places like the US News and World Report, but largely ignored them because their methodologies are terrible when it comes to differentiating schools that are relatively close academically. Furthermore, their methodology favors private schools (alumni donations are factored in) and heavily weighs input from the two most-biased sources possible: top university officials and high school councillors. Furthermore, there were what appeareobvious poor choices, such as claiming that Georgia, Maryland, Ohio State, and Purdue were equally good. I chose to use the five consensus top public universities in the country (Cal, Michigan, UNC, UVA, and UCLA) as well as the five best private schools with FBS teams. Other schools considered included Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech.

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